We have been put to the test, physically, mentally and spiritually in the recent months. A quick bout of change, a spreading illness and a heightened sense of uncertainty is a recipe to make anyone feel more anxious, stressed and insecure. However the teachings of yoga and its five thousand year old sister science known as Ayurveda, have given us the knowledge and tools to go within in order to restore balance.
In these circumstances, taking care of our basic needs is extremely important, here are three Ayurvedic tips to incorporate in our at home routines to help us start the rejuvenation process.
- Abhyanga – Self massage
Use a light plant based oil (sesame, avocado or sweet almond oils are suggested) and evenly apply on the body to perform abhyanga. Start with the extremities and focus on the joints, making your way upwards towards the belly and the chest. Along the stomach, move in a clockwise direction mimicking the direction of internal digestion. Continue massaging the scalp and with your pinky finger put some oil around the rim of the ears and nose, place a few drops under your tongue to purify the senses of hearing, smell and taste.
Don’t forget your feet. Put some drops of oil on the soles of your feet. A reflexology point that is important to massage on your feet would be the kidney point, this is the organ in the body that holds onto fear. Bring your thumb right beneath the big toe mound and move an inch downward, it should feel slightly tender.
Once your body is coated and soothed, it is suggested to leave the oil on while you sleep, this way the oil will have time to coat and protect the outermost layer of your skin. If you have dry skin you might notice the oil gets absorbed quite quickly. If it is not bedtime yet hop in a warm shower (or bubble bath) and towel off.
Make this a self-soothing ritual, try to spend at least 5-10 minutes each day working with abhyanga, or self massage.
- Restorative yoga
Or the yoga of letting go, is medicinal for the body especially during times of heightened stress.
It works to reduce any held tension in the body and psyche by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Even practicing one restorative yoga pose daily will aid us in feeling more calm, grounded and safe. It is important to understand how taking care of our root chakra can alleviate strong emotions of worry and open the channels of extreme faith in the processes of life on earth. All you need is your body and a bunch of comfy things around the house i.e pillows, blankets, books that could resemble yoga blocks, belts and sleep masks, etc. Create a quiet space for yourself, light some candles, put on loose fitting clothing and your best relaxing playlist. Now is your chance to really set the mood for yourself and use these props to “build a foundation” for yourself. Set an intention that might involve the bodies willingness to surrender into these restorative shapes and any attachments to the external world. There are many restorative postures but some favorites are: supported child’s pose, supported locust, supported wide legged forward fold, supported reclining bound angle, legs up the bolster and of course supported savasana. These supported postures are especially beneficial for anyone experiencing difficulty sleeping or having bouts of insomnia, try restoring before bed and let your muscles melt.
- A grounding Vata pacifying diet:
There are plenty of recipes online for diets that help pacify “Vata Dosha”. Even if you know Vata is not your primary dosha, we can all use some vata pacifying in these times of irregularity.
To explain a Vata pacifying diet simply, go by the rule, “would I feed this to an infant”. Cooked, earthy foods are best, think root veggies with healthy oils, think soft nourishing foods that are easy on the digestive system since our digestive systems could be on overdrive right now. Each day try to have your meals at consistent hours, as having a routine is very important right now. Additionally one of the best things to do each morning is drink a Vata pacifying morning tonic, remember water always before coffee or tea. Mix ginger, cardamom, cinnamon (bonus if you can add ajwain seeds) add a cup of boiling water to the mixture, let steep for five minutes, strain the herbs and serve warm.
Namaste to all!
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